Sea Scouts BSA

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year. 2020 wasn’t quite the year we were looking for, but despite everything, Sea Scouting persevered and is poised for a great 2021. I don’t have final numbers yet, but it looks like we’ll end the year with around a 7% loss in the number of Ships, which given the circumstances is not that bad – and amazingly, more than 30 new ships started this year. What’s important is that when things finally open up again (hopefully in time for summer activities), that we have the ships in place to accommodate the pent up demand for outdoor youth activities. If we can keep our ships going until then, I think we’ll have all the youth we can handle.

Sunrise on a New Year! Prepare to get under way!

The creativity our Ships have shown in running programs and keeping Scouting alive this year has been inspiring – it worked so well that a surprising number of Ships have told me that 2020 was their best recruiting year ever. The key seems to have been empowering youth leadership to invent virtual and physical programs that challenge all our past assumptions.

One interesting outcome is that the inability to gather forced us to figure out how to conduct virtual Seabadge, which turned out to be so great that 2020 saw well more than 2x the number of Seabadge attendees in any previous year. It turns out that if you remove the expense and the travel requirement from Seabadge, a whole lot more people want to attend – who knew? If you are one of them and didn’t make it in 2020, we’ve got a few more virtual Seabadges coming in 2021.

Thanks to a concerted effort by our Area and Regional Commodores, we had good success this year in getting Council Commodores appointed. This is going to be even more important in 2021, because as we transition from the current Region/Area model to the new National Service Territory model, Councils will have a more prominent role, and our Council Commodores will be representing Sea Scouts in their Councils to the Territories.

A lot of people have worked hard to keep Sea Scouts going this year – I want especially to call out and thank all of our youth and adult leaders in ships, councils, areas and regions, as well as the National Quarterdeck and the National Committee. What a superb team we have at all levels! Thank you all for all you’ve done. I also want to thank the Coast Guard Auxiliary – despite the challenges 2020 brought, they have continued to support us and to start ships. I look forward to more of that in 2021.

As we look forward to 2021, there’s a lot coming up that we need to let you know about. See the list below for details on those. Meanwhile, it’s time to think about a New Year’s Resolution for your ship – perhaps adding some Scouts, planning a long cruise, ….? My personal New Year’s Resolution for this year was to get out on the water at least twice a week – little did I know that would consist entirely of solo stand up paddleboard outings, but I did manage 124 of those this year, so I exceeded my goal. Not sure what I’ll shoot for on the personal front for the next year, but my Sea Scout goal will be to get us back on a growth track nationally!

Happy New Year,
T.W. Cook – National Commodore

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Applications:

  • National and Territory Boatswain Applications are now open – the form is here. National Boatswain applications are due February 15th, Territory Boatswain applications are due March 15th.
  • Sea Scout Leadership Award nominations for the Area, Region and National levels are due starting March 1st. This will be the last year for the Area and Regional awards! Remember that anyone can nominate someone – if you feel someone is deserving, please send in the nomination. (note that Councils establish their own schedules for this).
  • National Flagship applications are due March 1st. The instructions and 2021 flagship application can be found here – the scoring criteria remain the same as last year.
  • Applications to cruise on the Barque Eagle are now open. Of course, the cruise may or may not be conducted, depending on the Coast Guard’s schedule for the summer. Details here.
  • From July 18-24 I’ll be participating in a unique workshop at Philmont Training Center called Older Youth Programs: An Essential Part of Scouting. At this week-long conference with key youth and adult leaders in the Venturing, Sea Scouting, and Exploring programs, participants from across the country will be able to share ideas and brainstorm new ways of delivering these programs to their units and councils. More information and registration available at the PTC website. I hope to see some of you there!
  • SEAL will (pandemic permitting) be back at full strength for 2021. Applications are available here.
  • We have two initiatives where we would appreciate your help:
    1. Ensuring we have emails for Ship boatswains that will be consistent for each Ship, so when there is a new boatswain, we do not lose the ability to share opportunities for Sea Scouts. The form is available on
    2. We are preparing a 2020 Year in Review with Sea Scout Ships from across the country. Please share any photos on the upload form.
  • We have a great lineup of webinars coming up in 2021, including an increased focus on advancement topics. The January schedule has just been published here.
  • We intend to hold another National Sea Scout Roundtable in mid-January – details to be determined at this point, but keep an eye out for an announcement.

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